Bumblebees show preference for road-facing hedgerows as pesticides continue to damage habitats

Bumblebees show preference for road-facing hedgerows as pesticides continue to damage habitats

The pollination service provided by bumblebees on the field-side boundaries of hedgerows may be limited because farming methods are having a negative impact on their sources of food, a study has found.

Research by ecologists at Plymouth University has shown some of the most common species of bumblebees are more than twice as likely to visit flowers on the road-facing side of hedgerows compared to crop-facing boundaries.

Writing in the Journal of Insect Conservation, they say this can be attributed to the pesticides and fertilisers used on crops, and they are dramatically reducing the bees’ potential habitats.

But they suggest there could be a simple way to address the problem, by encouraging farmers to leave a greater barrier between their crops and hedgerows so as to lessen the effects of chemicals and encourage wildflowers to flourish.

Dr Mick Hanley, Lecturer in Terrestrial Ecology in the University’s School of Biological Sciences, conducted the study alongside BSc (Hons) Conservation Biology undergraduate Josh Wilkins, and they examined bumblebee habits at 30 sites across Devon and Cornwall.

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